Monday, November 30, 2015

What the Heck are the Terrible Threes?

"There's a word for this in psychology, said Dr. Alan E. Kazdin professor of psychology and child psychiatry at Yale University. "Normal.""

He is referring to the behaviors of three year old children. Too bad I didn't read more of his research fifteen years ago. I could have used the help.

His research states that "parents go from lugging around a child that is largely free of will to parenting a 3-year-old that has preferences, tastes and a forming personality... The child grows and changes, but the parents' expectations stay the same." 

So... it's the parent's fault? I'll admit that I didn't have a clue as to what triggered Jordan's momentous, wall kicking tantrums again. I wondered if it was because she wasn't feeling well, or we coddled her when she was sick (how could you not?) and she expected it to continue, or she was just pissed at the world, which most undoubtedly included me.

Naively, I hoped since she had already gone full-throttle through the terrible twos, that we would ease through the threes. Not so much.  Everything became a battle. Getting dressed -she cried for two hours because she didn't want to put her socks on. Two hours. Over socks. Eating -she refused to take even one bite. I had to eat what my parents gave me, and she wouldn't even taste the food to see if she liked it. Cleaning up, turning off the T.V., going to bed, getting out of the tub... and you can imagine how potty training progressed. Or maybe you can't, because I had no idea, before my experience with Jordan. Let's just say that I now fully understand the term "anal retentive".

Although I am able to joke about this now, at the time there was nothing funny about it. I felt as if I was powerless to help her. She didn't know what she wanted or needed, or at least she wasn't able to communicate it to me, so I couldn't help her. I believed in my heart that this rage inside of her could not have been "normal". It was way too extreme, too painful and deep.  Kayla had thrown tantrums but in comparison, they were almost non existent. I actually developed a fear that Kayla's were less intense only because she was younger, and they might increase in time. As if all kids reacted with this level of anger and frustration.  In retrospect, this is ridiculous since I taught in daycare facilities and nursery schools for many years before having kids, and had seen my fair share of tantrums. Jordan's were pretty much off the charts.

It was very difficult for me to control my anger in response to her's. Instinctively, I guess I fight fire with fire, rise to the level of craziness. And she sure could push me to a level. Although future posts will not always portray me as the perfect parent, I'm going to continue to be truthful. I figure, we can't be the only family out there who has struggled, and been beside themselves at times. Hopefully sharing our experiences will help others feel more supported and better understood.

Thank you,

Us Too

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